Speaker John Boehner probably never meant to end up being the face and voice of the Republican Party – but he’s the man in the room facing Obama so that’s how it is.
Last month, just before the House passed the Speaker’s bill to raise the debt ceiling until May, I asked an old friend who’s a long-time pollster, “Do you reckon the House Republicans are about to help or hurt themselves with voters?”
He shrugged and said, “It doesn’t matter.”
Then he explained the House Republicans’ problem isn’t issues like ‘Debt Ceilings’ it’s that voters see them as shallow, petty Washington politicians.
Now, if the pollster’s right that’s bad news – because when character rears its head in a political fight it’s usually deadly. Ask Newt Gingrich. Or Herman Cain. Or remember Richard Nixon.
And it’s a safe bet Obama knows nailing Republican Congressmen as Washington politicians is about as good a way as any for his new Super-Nonprofit to elect a Democratic House Majority next election.
So what can Speaker Boehner do?
Well, if it’s just a plain simple fact and true that House Republicans have become died-in-the-wool Washington politicians – there’s not much he can do. Obama won’t allow him to escape the facts. And the only cure for bone-deep sinning lies beyond politics in the realms of repentance and Grace.
And even if it’s not true Boehner still faces a tough job – because serving as Speaker while proving to voters he (and fellow House Republicans) are not Washington politicians is one tall order.